It is easy to get confused when speaking
with John Cox about whom he is really opposing in the race to replace
retiring Sen. Peter Fitzgerald (R-Ill.).
From the sound of it, his opponent is Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.)
instead of the nearly 10 other candidates running for the seat.
“Take Dick Durbin,” Cox said in an interview with The
Hill. “He’s been in politics since he was right out
of college. And what does he do now? He flutters in the wind. He
is at the mercy of teachers unions and trial lawyers.”
Cox, an accountant and financial adviser, vied for the Republican
nomination to challenge Durbin in 2002 and ran for the House in
2000 but lost the GOP primary. He touts experience in politics as
well as an “extensive résumé.”
Patrick G. Ryan
|Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) isn’t a candidate
in the race to replace retiring Sen. Peter Fitzgerald (R-Ill.),
but he’s the target of much of John Cox’s campaign
Cox grew up on the South Side of Chicago, the son of a
public-school teacher and a postman. He graduated from the University
of Illinois and Kent College of Law.
If elected, Cox said he would be the only U.S. senator who is also
a certified public accountant (CPA).
“That’s the difference,” he said, adding, “I’m
going to be able to speak to people as a CPA.
“Hopefully, I’ll be in demand for news shows and not
just because I want to be on TV.”
Despite Cox’s vows to be collegial, he continued venting about
Durbin. “He has very little in the way of a life outside of
politics,” he said. “He’s a passionate person,
but he’s also a demagogue. He’s a bitter partisan.”
But Cox doubts his earlier run against Durbin and his palpable distaste
would create tensions in the delegation. “The issues,”
he said, “would be the only source of tension.”
Cox’s Republican rivals — Jack Ryan, Jim Oberweis and
Andrew McKenna — so far have significantly outpaced Cox in
fundraising and building a political organization.
Cox — tanner and trimmer than an average 47-year-old —
looks like many politicians on Capitol Hill. He has freshly cut,
white hair and wears a dark suit, white shirt, red tie and American-flag
pin on his lapel.
His disposition fits the mold of a would-be lawmaker who is trying
too hard. He leans in close and delivers a light touch to the listener’s
knee with an index finger. He speaks in urgent, low tones.
But what makes him worthy of being a senator?
His reasons include teaching Sunday school, serving on boards and
attending the Republican convention in 1992, 1996 and 2000; he says
he did not see his opponents there.
“I have attended pro-life rallies,” he said.
Cox said he expects the endorsement of Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Ill.)
and is seeking Fitzgerald’s blessing. Indeed, Cox said, he
already knows “every Republican senator.”
But a few hours after the interview, Cox’s spokesman, Andy
Bloom called back to breathlessly recant Hyde’s anticipated
endorsement. Bloom noted that Hyde has not declared anything publicly.
Cox is a divorced father of three daughters.
Now remarried, he said his new wife is more supportive of his political
ambitions than his former one.
“My ex-wife hated politics,” Cox said. “That may
have been one of the sources of our problems.”